“Don’t eat the paint,” your grandmother advises, as she fills a glass of water straight from the tap. “Gladly,” you think, neither tempted by this odd warning nor confused about the meaning. Old homes have lead paint; by now – it’s a well-known fact. What your grandma doesn’t know, is that the old pipes that bring water to the faucet are made of lead, and heed an important warning of their own in your freshly poured glass.
Lead is a naturally occurring, inexpensive metal that is bluish-gray in appearance and easy to manufacture. Because of its inherent properties, lead is used in a variety of products including batteries, bullets, piping and up until 1978, paint. Though useful, this metal has serious effects on people when overexposure occurs. Lead-based paint was banned by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission because of the poisonous effects on children, which resulted in irreversible slowed mental and physical development and a reduction in attention span. Lead poisoning in adults can negatively affect muscle coordination, reproduction, increase blood pressure and cause nerve damage.
Lead can also be consumed through tap water that is supplied through lead-based pipes, fixtures and connectors built in homes most typically before 1986. The water becomes contaminated when it sits in the lead pipes for several hours, and the metal leaches into the potable water. Leaching cannot be pinpointed to one single factor, but occurs more frequently from soft and acidic water, high temperatures, and in old plumbing. In recent years, lead exposures have decreased, thanks in part to the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule, which monitors lead levels at the tap and takes necessary measures if required. However, as reported in a recent article in the Chicago Tribune concerns have been raised about the screening process for lead.
Apart from municipal checks or using a home water quality test kit, there is no way to tell whether there is lead in drinking water, as the metal is odorless, tasteless and colorless when dissolved in water. Because of this, it is important to check with your local municipality to ensure safe drinking water. Ask if your water has an action level of 15 parts per million (ppm), which exceeds the EPA’s maximum level, and if your street’s water main pipe has lead in it. If the lead concentration in your tap water exceeds the action level of 15 ppm, running your water for 30 to 45 seconds, or installing a home filtration system is recommended to reduce it. The Zuvo® Water Filtration System is certified to meet the NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for the reduction of lead.
Are you concerned about lead in your water? If you are, please contact Zuvo Water for more information or check with your local water utility.